Edinburgh review: A Little Life – Festival Theatre

First published in The Times, Monday August 22 2022


The Belgian theatre director Ivo van Hove is renowned for his stark, uncompromising productions of classic plays, from Greek to Renaissance tragedies and, memorably, works by Arthur Miller and Tennessee Williams. His latest project is an adaptation of a more recent literary phenomenon, A Little Life by the American novelist Hanya Yanagihara, which was shortlisted for the Booker prize in 2015.

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Edinburgh review: Medea – The Hub

First published in The Times, Monday August 15 2022


Liz Lochhead’s celebrated adaptation of Euripides first took Edinburgh by storm in 2001 in an award-winning production by Theatre Babel at the Assembly Rooms, with Maureen Beattie in the title role. It has taken more than 20 years for the play to make the short journey from New Town to Old, and from the Fringe to the international festival, courtesy of Michael Boyd’s revival for the National Theatre of Scotland.

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Edinburgh review: Purposeless Movements – The Studio

First published in The Times, Tuesday August 20 2019

Four Stars

One of the highlights of last year’s Edinburgh Fringe was the musical My Left/Right Foot from the Birds of Paradise theatre company. Focused on a hapless am-dram troupe’s endeavours to win an award by embracing diversity, the show poked merciless fun at the long line of able-bodied actors being lauded as “brave” and rewarded with Oscars for playing disabled roles.

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Edinburgh review: Red Dust Road – Royal Lyceum

First published in The Times, Friday August 16 2019

Three Stars

Tanika Gupta’s adaptation of the bestselling memoir by Jackie Kay, Scotland’s makar (national poet), is full of moments that break the heart and stir joy. It was almost bound to be. The book, which weaves the author’s 20-year search for her birth family with memories of her upbringing as the mixed-race, adopted daughter of white Scottish parents, is written with an irresistible vitality and generosity of spirit. Its universality comes from its attempt to address the great mystery of what makes us who we are.

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Edinburgh review: Roots – Church Hill Theatre

First published in The Times, Monday August 12 2019

Three Stars

The company 1927, known for mixing live performance with animation, is always warmly received in Edinburgh. Its debut production, Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea, won a clutch of awards at the Fringe in 2007. The troupe’s collaboration with Barrie Kosky on an expressionist version of Mozart’s The Magic Flute was the big hit of the 2015 Edinburgh International Festival (EIF) programme.

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Review: La Maladie de la Mort – Lyceum, Edinburgh

First published in The Times, Monday August 20 2018

Four Stars

In Marguerite Duras’s 1982 novella, The Malady of Death, a man pays a woman to spend time with him at a seaside hotel in order that he might “try to love”. The author sought to recreate on the page the immediacy of the theatre: the spare text is reminiscent of a script with stage directions. At one point, Duras describes the room in which her characters meet as a “theatre”.

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Review: Letters Live – King’s Theatre, Edinburgh

First published in The Times, Tuesday August 29 2017

Three Stars

Perhaps the highest compliment you can pay an actor is that they could read from the phonebook and still make it engaging. Letters Live, in which well-known (and not so well-known) personalities read from significant correspondence, obviously provides the performers with far greater scope than the Yellow Pages. Yet, perhaps inevitably, the show, which has toured widely, attracting A-list participants, proves something of a mixed postbag.

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Review: Macbeth – Festival Theatre, Edinburgh

First published in The Times, Monday August 21 2017

Three Stars

Festivals love a good anniversary. When Verdi’s Macbeth was staged at the inaugural Edinburgh International Festival back in 1947, it was to mark the centenary year of the opera’s first ever performance. Seventy years on, this new production, from Teatro Regio Torino, conducted by Gianandrea Noseda, has been programmed as part of the EIF’s own birthday celebrations.

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Review: Meow Meow’s Little Mermaid – The Hub, Edinburgh

First published in The Times, Wednesday August 9 2017

Three Stars

Meow Meow has long been a favourite among Edinburgh audiences for her appearances in outrageous solo shows such as Feline Intimate, not to mention last year’s triumph as the singing star of Barry Humphries’ Weimar Cabaret. This year, the Australian cabaret diva known for her bendy physique, onstage acrobatics and above-the-stage aerial flights occupies an even loftier perch at the International Festival: the Hub at the top of the Royal Mile, where she has taken up residence for much of August.

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Review: Richard III – Lyceum, Edinburgh

First published in The Times, Friday August 26 2016

Three Stars

What a pity for Thomas Ostermeier that the legendary Moira Knox is no longer alive to see his raucous Shakespeare adaptation. The production, which originated at Berlin’s renowned Schaubühne am Lehniner Platz, contains all the ingredients that would have had the late Tory councillor and self-appointed guardian of public decency frothing at the mouth and therefore guaranteeing the director an Edinburgh International Festival smash hit.

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